Rachel met Clint in a diner one night while she was on the road trying to escape her past. From the moment they lay their eyes on each other, sparks fly. He offers her a job on his ranch and even though she's a city girl, she accepts.
It's not long before they give into their attraction and settle into life together on the ranch. They find happiness in each other's arms and Clint quickly wonders if Rachel is the girl that can give him his happily ever after.
Rachel's past eventually comes back to haunt her, and threatens her happiness with Clint. Can they work through their demons of the past and find their happily ever after? Or will Rachel leave Clint just like she fled her life before?
Chapter 1 - Rachel
Just a few more miles…Just a few more miles between him and I and it’ll be ok.
My hand was shaking as I took the last sip of my Red Bull. I hadn’t slept in three days and I’d been living on Red Bulls and candy. If I didn’t stop soon for a rest, my body was going to shut down.
I’d just made it through South Dakota. I thought about stopping to see Mount Rushmore, but I couldn’t. The more distance I could put between Buffalo and me, the better off I would be.
I crossed the state line into Wyoming, watching the sun set into the mountains. It was around nine at night and the highway was fairly empty. I saw a sign for Sheridan, Wyoming and decided to find a small hotel there for a night or two. I would probably be safe there; he’d never think to look for me way up here. We’d always talked about moving south to Florida, so hopefully he’d check down there first.
I exited the highway and turned into the parking lot of a small hotel with a diner attached. A shower and a home cooked meal sounded perfect right now. I grabbed my purse and headed inside to the front desk where an elderly woman greeted me. She looked more like a librarian than someone who would work behind the desk of hotel.
“Hey hun, what can I do for you?” She smiled at me so wide I couldn’t help but smile back. Her eyes darted to the bruise on my cheek and I self-consciously touched my face. Never again! Never again would I be embarrassed to be out in public because of something a man did to me.
“Do you have a room for a night or two?” I asked softly, my hands suddenly trembling. I shoved them in the pockets of my jean shorts so she wouldn’t notice.
“Just a second,” she said and looked at the screen next to her. After a few quick keystrokes, she turned back to me. “Yep, we have a room with a king-sized bed available on the second floor for two nights. Would you like it?”
I nodded, setting my purse on the counter and reaching inside for my wallet. I pulled out a few hundreds, hoping she didn’t notice the wad of cash I had in my purse. I didn’t want to draw any more attention to myself.
I paid for the room and she gave me my key. “The diner is attached and it’s open twenty-four hours a day. They have the best food there, breakfast especially.”
I took my key and thanked her before heading back out to my car. I grabbed a few bags, looking around to make sure I was alone before heading back inside to my room. Fuck him for making me so paranoid. I found it easily and threw my stuff on the bed. I looked at the bed longingly. I really wanted to lay down and pass out cold, but I needed a shower and food first.
I opened one of my suitcases and found a change of clothes and my bathroom stuff. I turned the water on almost as hot as it would go, before stripping off my shorts and t-shirt. I glanced at myself in the mirror, wincing at the bruises he left on my arm. I pressed my fingers gently on my face and bit my lip, fighting back the tears. He didn’t matter anymore; I was never going to see him again.
I climbed into the shower, the hot water feeling almost like needles on my skin. I closed my eyes and leaned back, letting the water wash the grime of his touch and the road off of me. As I stood there, all the emotions I’d kept at bay the past few days came crashing over me. I started to sob, my tears mixing with the water running down my face. I reached out and leaned against the shower wall, my body shaking.
When I finally had no more tears left in me, I squared my shoulders, determined not to let him break me again. I quickly finished in the shower and got dressed, my stomach rumbling. I took my room key and some cash and headed out of my room. It was already eleven o’clock, but the lady at the front desk said they were open twenty-four hours, so I figured I’d check it out. I’d thought about just ordering a pizza and having it delivered, but after being locked in my car essentially for the past three days, I needed to get out.
I walked out of the front door of the hotel and turned the corner to the diner. As I opened the door, I was surprised to find the place busier than I’d expected at this time a night in small town Wyoming. My stomach made a noise I was sure the whole place heard and I quickly made my way to a booth in the corner.
I sat down and grabbed a menu. I was so hungry that everything on the menu sounded good. I finally decided on an omelet and toast before the waitress even made her way over to me.
“All set to order?” she smiled at me, her black hair back in a high ponytail.
“Yes, I’ll take a ham and cheese omelet, wheat toast, and some milk please.” My mouth was watering at the thought of eating real food. Living off of fast food gets really old really quick.
She finished writing down my order and tucked her pencil back behind her ear. “Sounds good. I’ll get that in right away and bring you some water, hun.”
She turned and I smiled. I’d been called ‘hun’ twice in one night. Where was I? People back home weren’t this friendly. Maybe I could get used to this.
I glanced around the restaurant, checking out the other patrons. There was a group of older men sitting at the counter, their clothes dirty, looking like they’d just come from work. A few booths away from me sat a young couple sitting on the same side. I rolled my eyes when they kissed, but a part of me felt a twinge of jealousy.
There were a few others scattered about but my breath caught in my throat when I noticed him. He was at a table nearby and I have no idea how I didn’t notice him earlier. He was busy reading the paper and drinking his coffee, but I could see his chocolate brown eyes, lashes so long most women would kill for them. He was wearing cowboy boots and a baseball hat, so I couldn’t see what color his hair was or how long it was. He was wearing jeans and I briefly wondered if they were Wrangler jeans and if they fit him like they did the guys in the commercials. A tight white t-shirt showed off his muscular arms and clung to his chest in all the right places.
He glanced up and nodded at me with a wink and a smile and I turned away quickly, feeling my face on fire at being caught staring. The waitress came over with my food just then, having seen the whole thing.
“He’s hot, isn’t he?” she teased as she set my food in front of me. I laughed and nodded. “His name is Clint. He comes in here all the time. He owns a big ranch nearby where he lives with his mom, sister, and brother. He’s one of the youngest ranch owners in Wyoming.”
I turned and stole another glance back at him. He’d folded up his paper and was getting ready to get up. As he stood up, my eyes moved down his body. Yep, he wore the jeans just like in the commercial. I swallowed hard and felt a stirring deep in my womb when he looked over at me again. It was like his eyes were looking into my soul. Sexy as he was, it was a little bit unnerving.
The waitress leaned down and whispered, “He’s single too.”
“I’m not - I didn’t,” I stammered, totally embarrassed again. Was I that obvious?
“Just thought you’d want to know the way you two are checking each other out,” she winked and turned around to head back to the kitchen. Wait – he was checking me out too? I didn’t see that.
I shook my head. I just left an asshole, I didn’t need another man right away. It didn’t matter that he was sex on a stick; I wasn’t interested.
I couldn’t help but watch him as I ate. He seemed to know almost everyone in the diner and stopped to talk to everyone on his way out. He shook hands with the guys sitting at the counter, laughing and talking with them before turning my way. Shit, he was going to come right past my table. I wanted to slide under the table so bad right now. I cursed myself that I didn’t bring a book or something to read so I could look totally busy when he walked by.
“Hey there,” he greeted me, his voice deep and smooth, like whiskey going down your throat. He tipped his hat at me and I thought I was going to swoon. I’d never met a real cowboy before. Growing up in Buffalo, NY, there was nothing but punk ass men who thought they were all that.
“Hi,” I said, setting down my fork and taking a drink of my milk.
“New around here?” he asked. I swore his eyes darkened when he noticed the bruise on my cheek and I suddenly wished I’d taken the time to hide it better with make up; I’d just swiped on some foundation, not even bothering with concealer.
“Just passing through,” I replied. Should I offer him a seat? But I didn’t know him. My heart was pounding so hard I was sure he could hear it.
He nodded. “Where ya headed?”
I shrugged. “Not sure. My plan was to just drive until I found a good place to stay.” Why was I being so open with this stranger? I rarely shared with people I knew and here I was telling a total stranger my travel plans.
“Hmm…Well, this is a good place to stay and if you need work, I can always use help on my ranch,” he grinned at me and my stomach did a flip-flop.
He put his hand out to shake mine. “I’m Clint. I own Hidden Lane Ranch just up the way.”
“Rachel,” I responded, taking his hand in mine. It was different than his hand; rough, like he knew how to actually do real work. He griped my hand tight and shook it. For a second I thought about what his hands would feel like on my soft skin and desire pooled between my thighs. Sweet baby Jesus, what was I thinking?
“Nice to meet you.” He released my hand. “I gotta get back to the ranch, but if you’re interested, talk to the ladies here. They’ll point you in the right direction.” He tipped his hat to me again. “Have a good night, Rachel.”
“Goodnight,” I managed to mutter. God the way he said my name made me tremble. What would it sound like if he whispered it in my ear while in the throes of passion?
I watched him leave the diner shamelessly checking out his ass in those jeans. I kept my eyes on him until I couldn’t see him in the dark night before turning back to my omelet that was now cold. I was finished with it anyway and paid before heading back to my room. I didn’t think I could keep my eyes open much longer.
I stripped off my clothes and climbed into bed naked. As I’m about to drift off to sleep, I thought about Clint’s job offer. Maybe he was right; maybe this was a good place to stay. Then I could be around his sexiness all day. I sighed and rolled over to my side, clutching a pillow against me. I just left a man, would it really be smart to have another in my life so soon?
The last thing I saw before I drifted off was Clint’s smile. I might have to check out his ranch in the morning.
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About the author:
Scarlett lives in the Midwest with her family. When she's not busy writing steamy stories, she can be found with her nose in a book, camping, or geocaching with her family. She loves Diet Coke, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and 80's hair bands.
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